Didge With Musicians

It is important to note that not all didge players are musicians - at least not yet. A didge player who does not have a music theory background may have some difficulty joining in with a jam.

Here are three easy tips that will give you the tools you need to participate in making music with others.

Learn How To Count

This is vital. It sounds a bit silly, but it is not as easy as you might think to count to four while making music. There are a lot of YouTube videos that will teach you how to use a four count in music. Check out a few, then go listen to some music. Most western music uses a four count. Count along in the song. Do this as often as you can. This will create musical counting intuition. Eventually you won't have to count - You will feel the count.

Next, you need to get a metronome. You can purchase one from a music supplier or download a metronome app, like DidgIt to your tablet or smartphone. It is important to know the downbeat or (1) count. If you always know where (1) is in the count, you can emphasize the drone with a TA syllable at the downbeat. This will allow you to fit in with a song without having solo level skills on the didge. So practice this alone with a metronome. Set the metronome to a slow four count, maybe around 60 to 70 BPM. Count in your head (1) 2 3 4 (1) 2 3 4 (1) 2 3 4 along with the metronome. You can hear the downbeat is a slightly different tone than the other numbers in the count. Practice hearing and playing a drone like this at various speeds. It will serve you well.

Know The Key Of The Didge

If you don’t know the key your didge is in, get a guitar tuner or download a simple guitar tuner app and find out. Nothing is more aggravating to musicians than somebody playing in the wrong key. Don’t do it, PERIOD. Even when getting together with folks to do some simple improvisational jam time, share what key your instruments are in so that everyone can decide what keys they can work with you on.

Occasionally the group may play a jam in a key that doesn’t match your didge.

Sit that song out.

You don’t have to play didge the whole time. Pick up a drum or shaker and listen for the down beat. Maybe the next song will be in a key your didge will work with.

Some keys modulate better with each other than others. How will you know if two different keys will match? There is a composition tool called the Circle of Fifths. It is a circular chart that shows the relationships between keys. It is quite helpful as a quick reference in what keys will modulate well together. In this circle of fifths the lines drawn between keys demonstrate their modulation kinship. If a single line connects two keys, then you can play them together.

Didge, like other drone instruments creates a powerful musical bedrock that makes other instruments sound better. Like a reverb effect, the drone fills all the empty space with a warm resonance. Done properly and considerately, a droning didge rhythm can really step up the tonal quality of an improv ensemble.

Listen, Listen, Listen

Listen to the other musicians very closely. Don’t run over anyone else's music. If the intensity of the song is lower, then match that level. Be courteous in your playing. Don’t stomp all over someones melody with a heavy beatbox solo. In an improv jam, musicians will take turns. Allow others to have their turn, and find your place to shine. There is an unwritten protocol (until now apparently) of improvisation. Everyone attempts to lock in together, then they listen closely to each other. Someone may choose to play a little bit louder. Then the other players have to make a decision. Do I follow this volume change, or do I stay back? The same is done with tempo, rhythm, and melody. This creates a dynamic exchange, a musical democracy. It can be quite exciting, and sometimes magicly inspiring.

The most important thing about playing music on a regular basis with other musicians is that it turns you into a musician.